As infancy progresses and the anatomy grows, this results in a growing sense of identity. The infant develops rapidly and begins to show increasing signs of language skills, understanding instructions and constructive play. Sigmund Freud’s theory of development of life cycle stages is one of the best known. Freud believed that personality develops through a series of childhood stages during which the pleasure-seeking energies of the id become focused on certain areas. The psychosexual energy, or libido, was described as the driving force behind behaviour. Freud suggests that, if these psychosexual stages are completed successfully, the result is a healthy personality. During the infancy stage, the primary source of interaction occurs through the mouth so the sucking reflex is especially important. The mouth is vital for eating, and the infant derives pleasure from oral stimulation. Because the caregivers are responsible for feeding the infant who is entirely dependent on them, the infant then develops a sense of trust and comfort. The weaning process is when the infant must become less dependent on their caregivers. Freud suggests that, if fixation occurs at this stage, the individual could have issues with dependency or aggression. Oral fixation can result in problems with drinking, eating, smoking, or nail biting (The Reasoned Society, 2012)
As individuals, we all have personality traits. I believe some of these we are born with, and others we learn as we grow. Erik Erikson, although he was influenced by Freud, believed ego exists from birth. He organized the life cycle in to eight stages; however, I will adapt them in to five. In the infancy cycle, Erikson suggests not only do we learn to walk, talk and feed ourselves, we are learning finer motor development as well as toilet training. He believed that at this stage we are vulnerable. If we are shamed while being toilet trained or in learning other important skills, we may feel great shame and doubt, resulting in suffering low self-esteem in the future (Harder, 2012).
In childhood, the child moves further from the world of their main carers. It is at this time they become involved in other relationships, resulting in their sense of identity developing further. It is at this stage significant body changes will take place, including development of the reproductive system. The importance of family is significant at this time. The loss of friendship at this time in a child’s life can be very important also. For many a time of new experiences, intense learning at school for others leaving school. Additionally, also the time of conforming to roles and expectations within the community or society (Bingham et al. 2009: P 76).
Erikson suggests that at this time we are capable of learning, creating and accomplishing numerous new skills and knowledge. This is also a very social stage of development where, if we have unresolved feelings of inadequacy and inferiority among our peers, we can have serious problems in terms of competence and self-esteem (Harder, 2012).
Freud called this stage the latent period (aged approximately 6 – 12). He suggests that, during the latent period, the libido interests are suppressed. The development of the ego and super ego contribute to this period of calm. He also believed that children, having now started school, become more concerned with relationships and other interests. Freud also suggests the latent period is a time of exploration in which sexual energy is still present, and is directed into other areas such as